The importance of innovation in hospice fundraising

Categories: Care and Leadership.

Eamonn O’Neal, chief executive of St Ann’s Hospice in Greater Manchester, writes for ehospice about staying ahead of trends in fundraising.

Fundraising obviously underpins everything we do.  As hospices, if we were not successful in our fundraising activities, then we would be extremely limited in the services we could offer patients.

Like many hospices, St Ann’s has a rich heritage, and we are well known in our locality, Greater Manchester.  We will be approaching our fiftieth birthday soon, and whilst the care we offer today compared with when we first opened is very different, we are extremely fortunate that the support we receive from local people has remained – and grown – over the years.

Most hospices have grown out of the communities we care for, and are extremely grateful that the same communities support our work.  We all know we could not do what we do without them, and it is always extremely humbling to see people gathered to help raise money and awareness of our charity.

People rightly feel ownership of our organisations, and that gives us a responsibility to ensure we are always honest, fair and transparent with them.  But, even more than that, we need to surprise them, keep them entertained and interested, and ensure we are always giving them a broad portfolio of activities to choose from when supporting us.

We know the world around us continues to change apace, and it is important that we do too – fundraising innovation is key to ensure we can carry on providing care for decades to come.

Charities historically follow each other where a few lead.  Whatever the latest trend is, we all leap into action to follow suit, tapping into its popularity whilst it is still relevant, and trying to ensure we are in on the action.  Following trends is obviously a useful tactic, but it is important we are always refreshing our own offerings and thinking innovatively in terms of our own calendar of activities too.

We have made two new appointments recently at St Ann’s, with Anne-Marie Wynne joining us from Marie Curie as our new Head of Fundraising, and Dr Paul Jarvis joining us to fill a brand new post as Director of Business Development.  They will both work closely with our fundraising and trading company teams, as well as colleagues from across the organisation to ensure we are maximising – and most importantly creating – opportunities to diversify and increase our income.

It is not always easy to innovate or change how we are working.  It does not mean we should remove all of our regular flagship events, for example.  The activities that have proven popular with our loyal supporters year on year, are often still just as important now, but we should always be brave enough to carry on evaluating, questioning and asking how we can improve them each time we run them.  We should be mindful of not resting on our laurels, and keep surprising people so that even the longest-standing events continue to delight our audiences.

That elusive ‘next big thing’ is not always easy to find, but by listening to our supporters, staying abreast of latest trends and innovation, and driving change within our own organisations, we can certainly move forward towards the next 50 years of care in a positive – and ambitious –  way.  Only by remaining on the front foot can hospices do that, and we should be proud to innovate and push the boundaries in fundraising, as we would with the world-class care we deliver every single day.

For more information visit St Ann’s Hospice

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